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Recommendations for a cheap laptop

Old 11-01-17, 09:43 PM
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Recommendations for a cheap laptop

I'm looking for an inexpensive Windows laptop.

I want a cheap-o ($200 neighborhood) as a secondary laptop I can drag around with me and not have to worry about it getting lost, stolen, or damaged. I just need something that will run reliably with minimal power. I don't need to do multi-tasking, gaming, or multimedia. Just something I can do work on (nothing resource intensive) and web-browse on. I'll mostly use it on public wifi when I'm traveling and commuting.

I'm looking at an HP Stream right now. 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, celeron CPU. The 32GB seems a little tight to run Windows, but if I need extra storage to download files I can just use an SD card or USB flash drive. These can be had for a little over $200.

Also looking at a Dell 14" Inspiron 3000. Similar specs to the HP, but 2GB of RAM. Windows 10 should be able to run on 2 gigs, but I'm worried about a lot of crashing. These sell for around $200, but it looks they're going to be $129 on Black Friday.

Any experience with any of these? Or a better option?

I really hate dragging my good laptop around with me. I just need a secondary device, a "beater," if you will.
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Old 11-02-17, 08:36 PM
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Re: Recommendations for a cheap laptop

Can you use a chromebook?

I bought one for my daughter when she was in 4th grade, she's in 6th now, and so far so good. I've read reviews of some developers (programmers) that are using them as their main device too.

They seem to be pretty fine for the kind of stuff you want to do.
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Old 11-02-17, 09:14 PM
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Re: Recommendations for a cheap laptop

No, I need a Windows system. There's some stuff I can't do on a Chromebook.
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Old 11-02-17, 10:26 PM
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Re: Recommendations for a cheap laptop

My advice to you would be to go for a laptop with a REAL hard drive, not an eSSD! 32 GB is NOT enough primary storage for a Windows 10 system, and you'll soon regret it. Adding memory-stick storage to such a system is not optimal, either. Unless you pay big bucks for fast USB3 memory sticks, you'll be stuck with a 20-30 mb per second write speed, which is unacceptable.

Right now, my 'beater' laptop is an Asus x553-ma. It cost me all of $95. I immediately wiped out Win8, put Win 7 on it, and it is very good and fast. It has a real HD, 500 gb of primary storage. It consumes very little power, around 6 to 8 watts.

Remember any new Windows laptop that you buy will not be able to run anything other than Win10, due to their BIOS'es being crippled and supporting UEFI-only. Legacy boot modes won't be available. So, you're stuck with the terrible, spyware-infested Windows 10. Unless you wipe everything out and install Linux on it.

With a 2-3 year old laptop, you've got the best of both worlds. Freedom in OS, mechanical drive of substantial capacity, and very low power consumption. If you are lucky, you'll be able to find a New Old Stock 2 year-old laptop like I did, and be set to go...
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Old 11-03-17, 09:40 AM
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Re: Recommendations for a cheap laptop

Big bucks? A 128gb usb 3.x flash drive is all of $30 these days. Not that I disagree w/ 32GB not being enough.

I also recommend going with a refurb older model, the only x factor there is how good the battery life will end up being. I prefer Windows 10 to 7 for security and performance purposes, but you definitely need to do some work on it before it's ready to go. Additionally, somewhat surprisingly, 2gb is sufficient on Windows 10.

I also see decent laptops for sale regularly, ie: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/lenovo-...?skuId=5828200

But 15.6 is pretty large.

Last edited by RichC2; 11-03-17 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 11-03-17, 03:47 PM
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Re: Recommendations for a cheap laptop

Originally Posted by RichC2 View Post
Big bucks? A 128gb usb 3.x flash drive is all of $30 these days. Not that I disagree w/ 32GB not being enough.
That's true, but those cheap USB sticks usually have very poor *write* speed, while having fast read speeds due to the cheap controllers they use. Most of those can read at > 100 mb/sec, but write is very lousy, 15-20 mb/sec.

In order to get hard-drive-class write speeds, one needs to purchase something like the Sandisk Extreme 64GB USB 3.0 memory stick. Currently a very expensive $51.99 at my nemesis, Amazon. It reads at > 150 mb/sec and writes at ~80-90 mb/sec, in my personal experience. Makes a world of difference when transfering large files!

And for that same $52, one could probably find a 2TB hard drive on sale somewhere! That makes these USB sticks "big bucks" when one considers the alternatives.
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Old 11-03-17, 04:14 PM
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Re: Recommendations for a cheap laptop

If you want to put a little time an effort into it. I managed to get several HP 8470p laptops (the key here is Core i5 Ivy Bridge level processor Intel Core i5-3210M or higher/newer) used off ebay for $125-$140. I put a 256GB SSD in each of them that I got by watching deal sites, same with memory, two of them have 8GB and the 3rd has 16GB

scored some low cost windows 10 upgrades for them and have some very low cost and very useful laptops to travel with that I won't care too much if I break them. They have 14" screens too and are well built

$125 laptop
$100 SSD
you may or may not need to add ram, but another $50 or so for ram depending on what the original purchase got you

Less than $300

Sure you can get a low end new piece of crap laptop with 4gb of ram and a slow mechanical hard drive for the same money, but they will actually 'feel' a lot slower than these older models souped up.

I am not worried about them breaking due to age or wear, parts are easy to come by and I can fix them myself

so YMMV, not the road for everyone
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Old 11-04-17, 01:18 AM
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Re: Recommendations for a cheap laptop

I also like a smaller notebook because it is portable, and only as a backup, I'm also looking for a suitable laptop recently.

Last edited by avmia; 11-04-17 at 01:30 AM.
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Old 11-04-17, 03:32 AM
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Re: Recommendations for a cheap laptop

I need a Windows system.
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Old 12-13-17, 08:08 AM
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Re: Recommendations for a cheap laptop

Update: I ended up buying the $99 Lenovo Ideapad from Best Buy on Black Friday. So far, it's exactly what I needed. The Celeron processor and 2 GB of RAM tend to slow down the browser every now and then, but it's no biggie. I stuck a 32 GB micro SD card in it in case I need additional storage, and I'm good to go.

With the 11" screen, the keyboard is a bit dainty, but the small size makes it easy to stash in my car. It fits nicely in the pouch behind the passenger seat.
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